Wednesday, September 21:

Harriet’s Seventy-First Birthday week celebration started a day early this year. That happened for the same reason that Red-Hat Ladies eat dessert first. The Ladies do that because life is uncertain. In other words, you might not be alive when dessert comes around, so you should do what you like best first. (Don’t worry, we are both healthy, but we’re not promised tomorrow. Which is why we are going to have fun today.)

If you think about it, there’s a lot of wisdom in those words,” Life is uncertain, eat dessert first.” Harriet’s birthday is on September 22, which this year was on Thursday. Since we already had plans for Thursday, we decided to begin the celebration, of her Birthday Week, on Wednesday. Her first gift was a pedicure and manicure, (I only say gift because she seems to feel guilty for spending money on this. For a couple of weeks, she has been saying, “My Nails look terrible, I need to get them done.” I finally got the hint and said, “Why don’t I get that for you as a birthday gift?”)

I had some shopping to do and after she was finished picked her up and it was off to Red Lobster 🦞 for dinner. We always start with a shrimp cocktail, Caesar Salad, and wine. For dinner Harriet had a lobster tail, shrimp and salmon meal which was on special. I had broiled trout and rice. I ordered the add on half pound King Crab Legs.

For the first Fifty years of our marriage Harriet didn’t like Crab Legs. But last year we were in Denver and our nephew Chris, made Crab Legs for dinner. Since then, Harriet LOVES them and since it was her birthday…

Everything was delicious. We ate way too much. The waitress came up and asked, “Did you save room for dessert?” We laughed and assured her that we were stuffed to the gills. She said, “Do you mean to say that you didn’t even leave room for the birthday girl’s FREE dessert?” Well, since you put it that way, I would like a cup of coffee with the dessert.

Thursday, September 22:

We drove to, Harriet’s favorite Indian restaurant The Grill of India, which is located just off I-75/US–23, in Flint, Michigan. Harriet had Butter Paneer Masala, (Spicy,) with Nan and Rice. I ordered Vindaloo Chicken with Rice Pilaf, and Nan (bread). I looked at the dessert Menu, but nothing really sounded like Birthday to me.

After dinner we drove up to Birch Run and checked into the County Inn. The pool area is open from 6 am until Midnight. We swam a bit and sat in the hot tub until we were wrinkled like prunes. Following that we returned to our room, and Harriet opened her gift of the day. The gifts were three books from the American Library Association’s list of banned books.

(It seems to me that banning books almost always has the opposite effect, causing more people to read it out of curiosity. When I was in High School the book that was sure to warp our minds was Peyton Place. Which was so popular they made it into a television show. If you really want children not to read a book, make it an assigned text or, better yet, have parents buy the book give it to their kids and say, “We’ve decided to have a Saturday morning book club. Read the Introduction and first chapter by Saturday and we will discuss it as a family.”)

If you look over the list of books, that have been banned, you can only conclude that the lists are drawn up by your brother-in-law who boasts that he hasn’t read a book since high school. However, if I ever write a book, I certainly hope that someone would ban it. I cannot think of anything that will get everyone reading it and boost sales quicker than being banned.

Some of you are wondering what three books I purchased for her. They are, I know why the caged bird sings; The Color Purple; and a memoir entitled, Gender Queer.

Friday, September, 23:

We slept in, missing the free hot breakfast which ended at the ungodly hour of ten-thirty. I don’t remember what time we got out of bed, but I do know we were out of the motel and heading to Frankenmuth by three o’clock. We had slept through breakfast and unless we hurried, it would soon be too late for lunch.

Traffic was light and since it was too late for lunch and too early for dinner, we found a parking spot really close to the door. Harriet decided that she would like to eat at Zender’s today and go across the street to the Bavarian Inn on Saturday. Because of the early hour we were seated almost immediately.

We hadn’t been to Zender’s for a few years and expected a few changes. One change was the absence of the, All You Care to Eat Buffett Bar. Removed because of the pandemic. However, the menu looked the same, chicken dinner for one $29.95. Family style Chicken Dinner, which included: ALL YOU DARE TO EAT, chicken, mashed potatoes, stuffing, noodles, Brussel sprouts, Cole slaw, cranberry dressing, chicken noodle soup, bread, Stollen, rolls, cheese spread, drink, and dessert, (Vanilla ice cream or Orange Sherbert) also $29.95.

Below that was the upgrade, which had everything the family style had PLUS: ribs, shrimp, and Apple Strudel, for $34.95.

We ordered the $34.95 Pig Out Feast mainly because we both love good apple strudel. Sadly, the apples strudel at Zender’s reminds me of toaster strudel, (but not as good).

We had plenty of leftovers for a late dinner back at the motel. We decided to do a little shopping. Harriet had some clothes in mind, and I wanted to browse the discount bookstore.

We returned to the motel with groceries and parcels in hand. We opened a bottle of wine and toasted to Harriet’s good health. She opened her Birthday present du jure, which were, two books by Alexander McAll-Smith: The Good Pilot, Peter Woodhouse and The Quiet side of passion.

We went down to the pool area and spent a few hours swimming or soaking in the hot tub. Returned to the room and read or talked or whatever we wanted to until the wee hours of the morning when sleep finally overtook us.

Saturday, September 24:

We were packed and on the road by twelve thirty. We decided to have a late lunch at the Bavarian Inn and drove directly to Frankenmuth.

Whereas on Friday Frankenmuth was pretty much devoid of people, Saturday was overflowing. We pulled into the Bavarian Inn parking lot; no space available. We continued behind the buildings for about six blocks, no place to park. Pulled out onto the main drag and turned left to go back to the restaurant. Even with the handicap sticker, we couldn’t find a place to park the car.

We got behind one of those peddle pubs, It looks like a bar on wheels and the thing that makes it go down the road is the patrons all have a pair of peddles at their feet, Even though the patrons were peddling as fast as they could, the pub was barely moving.

We sat for three sessions of traffic lights attempting to make a left turn into the restaurant parking lot. While we were waiting for the pub to make the turn, the scripture, “You have not because you ask not, “ came to mind. Now, I know that God has more important things to do than leading me to a parking place, (especially if you consider that I am totally out of shape and a walk would be good for me.) However, encouraged by the scripture, I prayed, asking the Lord to lead me to a parking space. Traffic finally cleared enough to allow both the Pub and us to make it around the corner. We pulled around the outside of the lot and saw a car leaving two spaces from the door. As we pulled into the parking space, I said a quiet, “Thank you Lord.”

Once inside, the Bavarian Inn, I was informed that there was a ninety minute to two-hour wait. I gave the lady my name and phone number and went down to the basement to look for Harriet who was shopping for a souvenir. After wandering around for thirty minutes, I realized that I was out of energy and had hit the wall. I decided to grab a spot on one of the geezer benches while I waited for Harriet.

One of the things I hate about Parkinson’s is that you cannot count on having energy at any particular time. We have been at dinner at our friend’s house, when I hit the wall and could not stay awake. It’s rather embarrassing to say to your host, “Do you have a place where I could lay down for a half an hour?” People have always been understanding and gracious to me about this, but I still don’t like it.

Through the window I watched Harriet as she went from one area of the store to another. Finally, I noticed she was staying at the jewelry counter. I joined her and asked, “Have you found your Birthday gift for today?” Indeed, she had. Harriet had fallen in love with a charm necklace and ear-ring set. Which I assured her was a very reasonable price and looked wonderful on her.

Once the birthday gift was around her neck, we went up to the waiting area and found a comfortable place to sit. An hour and forty-five minutes after I gave them my name, I went to the hostess stand to make sure I hadn’t missed our name being called. Before I said anything the woman looked at me and said, “It won’t be much longer David. I saw you sitting over on the couch.” I’m always impressed by people with memories like that.

A half hour later we were seated. We had decided to order the same basic meal and do a taste test between Zanders and Bavarian Inn. see which one we enjoyed the most.

The meal started with a flight of the wines and a flight of the beers of Bavaria. After that we were served, chicken noodle soup , coleslaw, bread, stolen, cranberries, and cheese spread. Our meal was off to a good start.

After the appetizers were finished, we were served, Chicken, noodles, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and green beans.

Vanilla ice cream, orange sherbet, and coffee came with the meal. We also ordered apple strudel.

Our comparison was, we liked Zender’s chicken the best, the spices and breading added to the flavor of the meat, without drawing attention to itself.

Since my Parkinson’s has destroyed my sense of smell and taste, textures are a big thing for me. The Potatoes at Bavarian Inn are a lot creamer and the stuffing is a lot gloppier. If you like really creamy potatoes the Bavarian Inn is your place. However, I enjoy my potatoes thicker and my stuffing dryer, which caused me to give the award for chicken, potatoes, and stuffing to Zender’s

Sadly, Zender’s apple strudel was like driving through McDonalds for their apple pie. Happily, Bavarian Inn apple strudel was wonderful, the crust was flaky and the apples were bursting with flavor but were not too sweet. 

We decided to check into a motel instead of driving back to Adrian.  Getting a room has never been a problem for us in Frankenmuth before, but it seemed that every hotel, motel, and bed and breakfast was booked solid. The Holiday Inn seemed to know what motels had spaces available and called the Birch Run Comfort Inn asking them to hold a room for us.

The Comfort Inn was a fairly new motel and the rooms were very nice. We changed and went down to the pool room to swim and soak in the hot tub. After returning to our room we read books for a bit and watched a movie on television. A little after eleven Harriet said that she was  hungry, but didn’t really want to finish off our chicken dinners. I made a few phone calls and found out that almost every restaurant in the area was already closed. However, the Dominoes Pizza in Clio was open until Midnight. They didn’t deliver to Birch Run but I could pick one up. That Is what we did. I ordered the pizza and drove to Clio, picked it up, and drove back to Birch Run. By the time I got back to the motel, the pizza was cold and the beer was warm. How was it? Better than nothing, but not by much.

Sunday, September 25:

Woke up too late to go to church. We were packed and out of the room by eleven. Drove to Leo’s Coney Island in Birch Run for brunch.

After brunch we decided to shop for Harriet’s Birthday gift du jour. Spent a couple of hours walking around Bronner’s Christmas store in Frankenmuth and bought our 2022 tree ornaments.

Harriet wanted to go to a Farm Market in Lansing because she used to buy large batches of basil there and use it for pesto. On the way to Lansing, I asked her if she remembered Mitchell’s Seafood Market. We talked about the dinners we had there and how we had never eaten a bad meal at that restaurant. I told her that I wanted to take her there for her, Day 5 Birthday Dinner. She thought it was a great idea. Harriet ordered crab legs, rice pilaf, and asparagus, with a Cabernet.  I ordered, white fish, fried potatoes, a vegetable medley, and an Arnold Palmer. Michell’s did not disappoint, both of our dinners were wonderful.

Our last stop, in Lansing, was at Horreck’s where we bought fruit, meat, plants and basil; which Harriet will use to make pesto.

We got home around eight, unpacked the car, and checked out the pile of mail stacked on the Kitchen Island. All but two of Harriet’s gifts had come in the mail during our absence. Harriet owns about half the books in The Number One Ladies Detective Agency series. I bought the missing books, the HBO Series, and a DVD in which author Alexander McCall Smith takes us on a tour of Botswana. When Harriet saw the gifts that had come in our absence, she was a bit exasperated. “I wouldn’t had gone along with the Gift of the day idea if I’d known how much was waiting for me at home.” she said.

(You may have noticed that I keep writing about her Birthday week, which should be seven days. It’s true that we have only covered five days. Don’t worry, I have been a member of the UAW since 1969 and I know you never just forget about special days. Two days are banked for future celebrations. These will be on Saturday with Joshua, Zachary and the Grandkids And the final day is reserved for when we go to Peoria, Illinois, with Michelle, Mike Ashley and Aidan. I will share those days as they happen.)

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